The Cheshire East consultation period, which should have been 6 weeks and ended on 8 September 2017, was extended at the request of the Independent Examiner, Mary O’Rourke, as she had concerns that CEC had not given sufficient notice to the public regarding the consultation deadline for comments. She originally requested they give a further 3 week extension, however, following a query from a resident, the Examiner later amended this to a repeat of the entire 6 week period, resulting in the last date for comments being extended to 24th November 2017.
This has eliminated any chance we had of holding our referendum this year and indeed it looks now as if there is nothing we can do to bring this forward from February 2018.
The Examiner agreed to commence her study of our plan during the consultation period so as not to cause any unnecessary delay and therefore we are hopeful that we will receive her report shortly after the deadline. Hulme Walfield and Somerford Booths have received their report and we will be studying this carefully as there are several similarities between their circumstances and ours, so it will be interesting to read the report as they have the same Examiner as Somerford.
I do not yet know if the examiner has done her site visit but I am assuming that she has. She did not wish to be accompanied at that visit.
If there is nothing in her report that means we have to make changes to the plan then the next stage is to ask CEC to schedule a referendum whereby residents of Somerford will be able to vote for or against the plan becoming accepted into planning law. If there is a majority ‘yes’ vote from those that turn out to vote then the plan will be made. It is important to stress that residents will only be eligible to vote at the referendum if they appear on the electoral register so I would urge any residents of Somerford who are not yet registered to ensure they do this as soon as possible.
We have no control over the date of the referendum as it is CEC who determine this. It is likely the location will be at Somerford Business Court, which is the polling station for other elections. As soon as we have the details of the where and when these will be extensively publicised to ensure we get the best turn out possible.
This is your Plan, which has been over 3 years in preparation but the end is now in sight. Your continued support would be very much appreciated.
Chairman – Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee